LA CAÑADA — It can be a pretty daunting task taking on the state’s best eight-man football team.
Flintridge Prep hosted No.1 Cate High in a nonleague contest Saturday afternoon, and the Rebels did not let up.
A slow start by the Rebels was overshadowed by a second-half rally. However, Flintridge Prep failed to overcome Cate’s flurry of scores in both halves, losing, 62-52.
“We had shots, but we just had some injuries that are crucial,” Flintridge Prep coach Russell White said. “We did the best we can do. All of them. I’m not that mad, they did all they could do.”
Despite fumbling its opening kick that led to a score, Cate took over early on after it forced Flintridge Prep to two turnovers on subsequent drives.
The Rebels were rattled for the rest of the quarter, and turned the ball over three times in first.
Regardless, by halftime, Flintridge Prep only trailed by 10, 28-18, and its offense picked up momentum late in the third. The defense, however, gave up two scores that cancelled out the offense’s efforts.
“We figured out some things, but it’s football,” White said. “There’s three facets; the offense, the special teams and the defense, and those three facets have to work pretty well in order to win games.There’s a facet there that we have to work on to get better.
“All in all, a hard fought effort on all parts. [They’re a] good team and we’ll just go back to the grease board and figure it out.”
A strip-fumble with 2:46 left in the first frame from tackle Pearce Harris brought the Rebels back to life as they trailed, 21-6.
Flintridge Prep went on to score off of a 60-yard connection between quarterback John Lytle and receiver Zach Kim for a 21-12 score with 17 seconds left in the frame.
Cate responded with an early three-yard score to regain a three-possession lead, 28-12, before Lytle found Kim again for a 49-yard reception for a 28-18 score right before halftime.
In the second half, the Rebels’ offense continued its late first-half stride.
Lytle threw for 463 yards and seven touchdowns on 29-of-41 passing. He threw 10 passes on 16 attempts for 165 yards for two touchdowns in the first half.
“We had a couple new guys because of injuries and they had to get used to it first,” Lytle said. “But, in the second half, they picked it up and I was really proud of them. They did a really good job.”
His primary receiver, Kim, finished with 11 receptions, 260 yards and four touchdowns after catching three balls for 132 yards and two scores in the first half.
“I think we just need to work on our tackling and more in-game experience,” Kim said. “We just have to fight and want it more than the other team. If they’re No. 1 and we lost by 10 points, we’re there. There’s just these little mistakes. I think we’ll be fine.”
The Rebels went toe-to-toe with the Rams in the second half and closed in to trail by just four, 28-24, to start the half after Lytle found Ben Grable for a 25-yard touchdown reception.
“We were trying to play our matchups and they were using a safety to double up on a couple of our guys and I was just trying to read it and see who was open,” said Lytle on his throws.
After a Flintridge Prep punt, Cate scored again on a short 11-yard touchdown run to make it 42-24 with 4:28 left in the third.
The teams traded touchdowns for the remainder of the game on the remainder of their six possessions.
“We expected this of ourselves,” Kim said. “We came in with the underdog feeling, but we wanted to prove to the eight-men that they’re wrong. We wanted to send the message that [you have to come through] Flintridge Prep.”